When Spiritual Teachers Are Snobby. ~ Molly McCord

Via elephant journal
on Sep 7, 2011
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Photo: William Makepeace Thackeray


A little fall from grace is a great reminder that we are all human beings growing, improving, and conducting relationships on the same planet. You are never immune from learning interactions,  no matter how many autographs you’ve handed out.

There’s a Spiritual Guru whom I consider a great teacher. He’s charming, intelligent, insightful, and has a way of summing up current themes that usually connect to my own Life Stuff. Basically, I’m one of those people that picks up the goodness he’s puttin’ down.*

I’ve listened to his weekly radio show for a few years now, and recently he recounted an experience about an email he received from a listener. The email, as he told it, mentioned how his self-published books needed more editing before going to print because his writing had too many run-on sentences and the content was hard to read at times.

As I listened to this review of his work, I nodded in agreement. Some sentences were way too long and the grammar wasn’t always accurate. He did need “outside eyes” to improve the final manuscript. All writers do.

So while sipping my evening pint of pale ale (calories don’t count every night), I was prepared for a lovely story about how this reader helped him refine his writing efforts more and that he appreciated the feedback from buying customers who were interested in his work. Ya know, the highroad perspective to constructive criticism.

Instead, his real response was less-evolved and caught me off-guard.

Photo: Fernando Candeias

He launched into a rant about how he sent an email back to that listener proclaiming “we are all evolving and growing in our work” and that he “didn’t need input from every reader about what he should do and how he should do it.” He continued with how his writing is good and no one else has complained. At the end of his heated diatribe, he gave a triumphant, “…and I haven’t heard back from her since I sent that response.”

I scrunched up my face in disgust and set my beloved pint on the table.

Uh, yeah you didn’t hear back from the listener. Because you were snobby and defensive to someone who was trying to help improve your final materials. Because that listener said what I, another devoted reader, was also thinking about your final writing projects. Because your reaction was not of the highest-caliber expected of a teacher. Because essentially your whole reaction was EW.

I shook my head in disappointment.

It seems some spiritual teachers can forget that they are people, too, and not always sitting perfectly on a perch. When you have a devoted following who wants to reach out to you, it’s only to make you better. When you receive feedback on a product, it could be because they want to give you more money in the future. And sometimes, when you least expect it, you are the student in a situation and not the highly-evolved one telling everyone else about “the lesson.”

Of course, we all have bad days and moments when we’re at a boiling point. On those days, one comment can make any of us burst, right? Maybe he didn’t meditate long enough that day? Maybe his green tea didn’t seep thoroughly? Maybe he knew the truth about his writing and this comment hit on an unconscious truth his mom always told him since his self-identity started forming at the tender age of eight? I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt in some way.

Or maybe not.

Photo: El_Sol

A little fall from grace is a great reminder that we are all human beings growing, improving, and conducting relationships on the same planet. You are never immune from learning interactions,  no matter how many autographs you’ve handed out.

I will still listen to his radio show because I believe he has a lot of wonderful material to teach. But if there isn’t a dose of humility thrown in when needed, I may start seeking another teacher who never forgets there is always an opportunity to improve and be a proud work in progress. Being a teacher doesn’t mean you are finished being a student. And being snobby doesn’t earn you respect nor increased book sales.

*Some details have been changed to protect the guilty, er, innocent.


Molly McCord wrote this article, but she doesn’t like writing bios because they either say too little or sound waaay too impressive. So how about this: Molly is a Seattle-based writer/teacher/traveler/conscious-spiritual seeker who thinks spirituality is best when it’s grounded in reality, or else it just sounds ridiculous. Her website, Conscious Cool Chic: Increasing Consciousness Through Daily Inspirations, is where she writes about soul-yummy stuff on a kinda-daily basis. Connect on the Book of Faces or follow along on Twitter because she follows back.


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2 Responses to “When Spiritual Teachers Are Snobby. ~ Molly McCord”

  1. Yogini5 says:

    I fully agree with this blog post. To continue with such a teacher would require such managing-up skills on the part of his public, it's no wonder communication was dropped by this fan. I sympathize with her, because as part of my job duties, I get paid to text edit. If this teacher's possible editor (did he even have one?) neither earned his or her keep, or was cautioned not to make the material much more readable (to preserve his style); if it had been many other people, such criticism would have been welcome.

    Many spiritual teachers are not finished being students. However, such willingness to learn from others may not extend beyond the doors of the shala.

  2. Lezlee says:

    As a tutor I am always on the lookout for lessons to learn ~ I see the learning environment as a two way process, from tutor to students and back the other way. Life is one long journey of learning; no one person ever knows all the answers or should feel themselves exempt from acquiring new knowledge or skills. Great article, thank you :o)